Date of Award

Fall 10-23-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Douglas DeVore

Second Advisor

Dr. Paulette Koss

Third Advisor

Dr. Lisa Simon


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and describe middle school principals' perceived impact of servant leadership constructs developed by Patterson (2003) for establishing a culture of high performance.

Methodology: This phenomenological qualitative study described the lived experiences of middle school principals' use of Patterson's (2003) seven servant leadership constructs for establishing a culture of high performance in Orange County, California. The researcher was part of a thematic team of eight peer researchers and two faculty advisors. Data collection included virtual, face-to-face, semi-structured interviews using a protocol developed by the thematic team. Observations and artifacts for triangulation were utilized, and data was coded for emergent themes.

Findings: The data revealed 20 themes and 186 references across the seven servant leadership constructs of agapao love, humility, altruism, vision, trust, empowerment, and service. Thirteen key findings and seven major findings were discovered.

Conclusions: Five conclusions were drawn from the data and findings that described the perceived impact of the seven servant leadership constructs for establishing a culture of high performance for middle school principals. Middle school principals who establish a culture of high performance must (a) connect all seven of the constructs of servant leadership; (b) make stakeholder engagement a central focus; (c) know that relationships are key; (d) decision making must be purpose-driven; and (e) communication must be delivered clearly and consistently.

Recommendations: Further research is needed on servant leadership and the associated constructs. Replications of this study should focus on the demographics of principals, including specific genders and broader geographic locations. A mixed-methods study should add a quantitative tool to draw further insight into the servant leadership constructs for establishing a culture of high performance. Also, a correlational study could elucidate the causal-comparative relationship between principals and their subordinates. To conclude, a meta-analysis research study should be considered, using data from all eight thematic team members' studies to deepen the understanding of servant leadership across all fields of K-12 education.